UN chief Antonio Guterres must not allow terrorist groups to use the vulnerabilities caused by COVID-19


The economic and political tensions associated with COVID-19 have increased considerably: Antonio Guterres

The United Nations:

Terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and their regional affiliates should not be allowed to exploit the growing “cracks and fragilities” due to the psychosocial, economic and political tensions exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. , Secretary of the United Nations General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

“It is too early to fully assess the implications of COVID-19 on the terrorism landscape. But we do know that ISIL, al-Qaeda, their regional affiliates – as well as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups – seek to exploit divisions, local conflicts, governance failures and grievances to advance their goals, “said Guterres.

Speaking at the opening of the Virtual Counterterrorism Week, he said that ISIL continued its efforts to “reassert itself” in Iraq and Syria, while thousands of foreign terrorist fighters are fighting in region, seek to engage in conflict elsewhere, or linger in temporary detention while family members remain stranded.

Mr. Guterres expressed concern that the pandemic has also exposed vulnerabilities to new and emerging forms of terrorism, such as the overuse of digital technology, cyber attacks and bio-terrorism.

“Like the virus, terrorism does not respect national borders. It affects all nations and can only be defeated collectively. We must therefore harness the power of multilateralism to find practical solutions,” he said.

Describing the main priority areas required to act in the fight against terrorism, the UN chief said there was a need to combat the spread of terrorist stories through holistic approaches sensitive to the pandemic.

“The psychosocial, economic and political tensions associated with COVID-19 have increased considerably. Terrorists must not be allowed to exploit these cracks and vulnerabilities,” he said.

The week-long discussions aim to provide a platform to discuss the strategic and practical challenges of countering terrorism in a global pandemic environment and will include the participation of representatives from civil society, the private sector, women and victims of terrorism.

Guterres said the exchange of views and ideas this week will fuel next year’s High Level Counterterrorism Week, including the 7th biennial review of the Global Counterterrorism Strategy, the 2nd Conference of heads of counter-terrorism agencies of member states and the first Congress of Victims of Terrorism.

The UN chief also stressed the need for the international community to maintain momentum in the fight against terrorism, saying that this will include continued investment in national, regional and global counter-terrorism capabilities, in particular. especially for the countries most in need of assistance.

Nations must also closely monitor the evolution of terrorist threats and changing trends and be innovative in their responses. “It means we need to have the right technology, tools and concepts to get ahead of the terrorists,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of ensuring that counterterrorism responses are always gender sensitive – recognizing the violent misogyny at the heart of so many groups – and of protecting and promoting human rights.

“Anti-terrorism laws and security measures cannot be an excuse to reduce civic space, restrict freedom of association and deny other fundamental rights. Full respect for international humanitarian law, human rights and refugees is essential, “he said.

Guterres said nations also have a collective responsibility to facilitate the repatriation of foreign nationals, particularly women and children, from camps in Syria and Iraq, where the risk of COVID-19 worsens security and humanitarian aid already disastrous.

UN member states should also strengthen information sharing to learn from the experiences and good practices of other actors in the COVID-19 security landscape, he said, adding that assistance from Member States’ quality for capacity building will remain an important pillar in the fight against corruption and terrorism.

“We must commit to doing more and better. As in all other areas of our mission, our work will be evaluated by the difference we make in people’s lives.”


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